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Old 20-08-2011, 07:21   #76
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Re: Red and Green all around lights

Hello CruiserForum community. I would like to make some additions to this topic, which I see as being quite problematic and even treacherous issue for all members of the boating community. That issue being: How to identify a sailboat at night. Personally, I think that side-lights, stern-light and red-green special lights offer the best chances of being seen at night. For several reasons which I hope to outline below:

Firstly, there is a broad range of light combinations for sailboats, including:
1. All-round White (vessel < 7m)
2. Bi-colour (Port/Starboard) and Stern (vessel < 12m, but not stated in current Colregs)
3. Port, Starboard and Stern
4. Tri-colour (Port/Starboard/Stern) shown at the masthead (vessel < 20m)
5. Port, Starboard, Stern and All-round Red/Green special lights; with 1m separation distance
http://www.bosunsmate.org/seamanship/rulesoftheroad.php#rule25
With all these combinations it is easy to see how many boaters can be confused. But what is even more disturbing is how easily yacht skippers can be confused as well. There are a number of cases where commercial vessels have run into trouble with sailing vessels that were displaying incorrect navigation lights. Which can be seen in MARS reports like this one http://www.nautinst.org/MARS/mars04/200424.html, and this one http://www.nautinst.org/MARS/mars94/94019.htm, and especially this one http://www.nautinst.org/MARS/mars95/95022.htm.
There are some further problems which become apparent when you consider the observers point of view. Because with powered vessels the steaming light and sidelights are not in vertical alignment, which means that it is very easy for an observer to see when a powered vessel is taking action or altering course. Because the relative movement of the masthead and sidelight, or of the two mastheads on vessels >50m, gives an accurate indication of relative heading… However, with a sailing vessel, only one light is visible at any time – port, starboard or stern: Which in low light conditions will only tell the other vessel which sector they are in. But when you carry the Red-Green all-round mast lights, it gives the observer a better understanding of your vessels heading. It will immediately tell them when you are altering course.

Furthermore, the likely hood that some recreational skippers may not understand the lights does not matter, because will likely steer well clear of vessels showing additional lights. However, I personally would not complicate the mast with un-essential permanent fixtures. I am currently using two hoisted lanterns separated by a 1m cord, hoisted up on signal halyard, rigged on the main mast. I have found that the Aqua Signal Series 40 lanterns 3506202000(red) and 3506102000(green) do the job perfectly. The advantage here is that the mast is not cluttered with cables and extra weight. The signal halyard can also be used for day shapes, signal flags and anchor light.
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Old 20-08-2011, 21:34   #77
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

One thing that I don't believe has been mentioned - masthead tricolor lights for sailboats are only legal outside the COLREGS demarcation line; inside you need to switch to deck lights.

Now, here's a question that I would love to see answered:
Single-hander merrily sailing along under autopilot decides to take a 15 minute catnap. Should he be showing red over red?
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Old 20-08-2011, 22:29   #78
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

For all practical purposes, shine a light on your sail to show that you are a sail boat when approached.
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Old 20-08-2011, 22:59   #79
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
One thing that I don't believe has been mentioned - masthead tricolor lights for sailboats are only legal outside the COLREGS demarcation line; inside you need to switch to deck lights.

Now, here's a question that I would love to see answered:
Single-hander merrily sailing along under autopilot decides to take a 15 minute catnap. Should he be showing red over red?

I bolded the pertinent subsection. The accompanying picture in the pdf shows a tricolor.
From: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/navRu..._published.pdf

—INLAND—
Lights and Shapes
RULE 25
Sailing Vessels Underway and Vessels Under Oars
(a) A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit:
(i) sidelights; and
(ii) a stern light.
(b) In a sailing vessel of less than 20 meters in length the lights prescribed
in paragraph (a) of this Rule may be combined in one lantern
carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.
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Old 20-08-2011, 23:16   #80
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
One thing that I don't believe has been mentioned - masthead tricolor lights for sailboats are only legal outside the COLREGS demarcation line; inside you need to switch to deck lights.

Now, here's a question that I would love to see answered:
Single-hander merrily sailing along under autopilot decides to take a 15 minute catnap. Should he be showing red over red?
I am unfamiliar with "COLREGS demarcation line" but I assume this is where you pass into US territorial waters?

As for the red over red light configuration, you are mistaken. Red over red is the Not Under Commander (NUC) priority signal. It means that the vessel is suffering from an onboard emergency and has no capability to manouver at all. This grants the vessel priority over power, sail, Reduced in Ability to Manouver (RAM) and Constrained By Draft (CBD) vessels. It is a signal only to be used in "extrodinary circumstances", ie. circumstances that are beyond your control. If you see a vessel showing NUC lights, it will likely be because:
  1. They've run aground
  2. Engine failure
  3. Steerage failure
  4. Dragging Anchor (ie. a large vessel battered by the elements which cannot hold position with their anchor)
  5. A sailing vessel that is becalmed, or dis-masted, and hence without a means of propulsion.
I initially thought that this meant that the skipper is not on duty/autopilot engaged. But I was wrong, as you can read in the COLREGS here: International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS)
If the vessel is NUC because you are taking a nap, then this is not curcumstances which are beyond your control. I'd be happy to be corrected on this point. But I believe that you are not relieved of your responsibility to maintain lookout and take action to avoid collisions simply because you have the autopilot switched on.
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Old 20-08-2011, 23:36   #81
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

Also, to futher clarify, the special lights indicate the activities your vessel is performing. They form a 'right of way' hierachy as follows:
  1. No lights = ordinary power vessel, must stand off
  2. Red-Green = sail, second level priority
  3. Red-White or Green-White = commercial fishing and trawling vessels, third level priority
  4. Red-White-Red = Reduced in Ability to Manouver (RAM), a vessel constrained "due to the nature of her work", has higher priority
  5. Red-Red-Red = Constrained by Draught (CBD), a large vessel operating a shallow channel, do not go near this vessel
  6. Red-Red = Not Under Command (NUC), Highest priority, the captain is not in control of this vessel, it cannot manouver at all
You may also see White-White or White-White-White masthead lights in addition to a Yellow-White stern lights, which indicates there is a barge in tow. Such a vessel should be treated as though it were RAM, with extra care taken when crossing her stern.


Red-Red, not under command lights should not be used when you are operating Auto-pilot. Because this is a siduation which is under your control. Being on autopilot does not remove your responsibility under COLREGS to keep lookout and take action to avoid collisions. NUC is for emergencies, and examples of "extrodinary circumstances" are as follows:
1. Vessel Aground
2. Engine Failure
3. Steerage Failure
4. Dragging Anchor (ie. A large vessel, forced by wind or current, that cannot maintain position with the anchor)
5. A sailing vessel becalmed, or dismasted, hence having no means of propulsion
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Old 21-08-2011, 01:10   #82
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

I am sorry to have to tell you this, but NUC signals can be used whenever a vessel underway cannot or will not be manoeuvered. However, the NUC signals must not be used when they will unnecessarily interfere with the operations of other vessels.

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Old 21-08-2011, 01:31   #83
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

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I am sorry to have to tell you this, but NUC signals can be used whenever a vessel underway cannot or will not be manoeuvered. However, the NUC signals must not be used when they will unnecessarily interfere with the operations of other vessels.

Where do you find more clarification or legal interpretations of the rules? Rule 3 definitions, Colregs says this:

(f) The term "vessel not under command" means a vessel which through some exceptional circumstance is unable to maneuver as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel.

I don't see how "will not" fits in with the definition's "unable".

John
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Old 21-08-2011, 02:42   #84
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

I thought I'd been on this merry go round before.

Post #28 and #38 in the thread below

Sleeping at a Sea Anchor ??

John
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Old 21-08-2011, 03:55   #85
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

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Originally Posted by Viking Sailor View Post
I am sorry to have to tell you this, but NUC signals can be used whenever a vessel underway cannot or will not be manoeuvered. However, the NUC signals must not be used when they will unnecessarily interfere with the operations of other vessels.

I appreciate the correction, but that is my understanding of the rules. Perhaps some formal clarification is in order?

Understanding of NUC can be gained from the COLREGS table of definitions, which defines NUC as shown here: International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS)
"The term "vessel not under command" means a vessel which through some exceptional circumstance is unable to maneuver as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel." COLREGS Rule 3(f)

The difference here is that a vessel that will not be manouvered is not the same as a vessel that can not be manouvered. You might choose to show NUC lights while sleeping, but you are not legally NUC. When faced with RAM, CBD and other genuine NUC vessels, you are still the stand-off vessel... I doubt a court of law would accept sleeping as valid reason for NUC status, in the event of a collision.
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Old 21-08-2011, 07:27   #86
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

The point I'm asking about is that if the crew is asleep, then the vessel is unable to maneuver. Whether the sleeping crew is an exceptional circumstance or not doesn't matter from a practical standpoint.
The legalities/responsibilities aside, the idea is to communicate to other vessels what the subject vessel's status is. If the boat is unable to maneuver I would certainly want to know that as I approached it, and I wouldn't much care what the reason was.
Red over red makes sense to me in this circumstance. Showing regular lights would make me believe that the vessel would be able to maneuver and that is not the case.
In other words, the important thing is to communicate to other vessels what the subject vessel's real world status is, not necessarily the legal status.
Important to me anyway.
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Old 21-08-2011, 11:05   #87
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

Oh, let's see...there's a vessel off my bow showing red over red, so being a prudent mariner I pick up the VHF and hail him asking if he is in distress or disabled and in need of assistance. I don't get any reply, since the sleeping crew isn't keping a radio watch. I fire a starshell over his vicinity, to get his attention.

And on getting no response, I notify the Coast Guard that there's a vessel in possible distress or disabled incommunicado. Conveniently, they are only a half hour away and when the patrol boat arrives, the sleeper says "Oh,no, I was just napping".

And justice prevails, as they clap him in irons, cite him for failure to keep a proper watch, and terminate his voyage on the spot.

Yup, red over red, works fine for me.
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Old 21-08-2011, 11:18   #88
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

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The point I'm asking about is that if the crew is asleep, then the vessel is unable to maneuver. Whether the sleeping crew is an exceptional circumstance or not doesn't matter from a practical standpoint.
The legalities/responsibilities aside, the idea is to communicate to other vessels what the subject vessel's status is. If the boat is unable to maneuver I would certainly want to know that as I approached it, and I wouldn't much care what the reason was.
Red over red makes sense to me in this circumstance. Showing regular lights would make me believe that the vessel would be able to maneuver and that is not the case.
In other words, the important thing is to communicate to other vessels what the subject vessel's real world status is, not necessarily the legal status.
Important to me anyway.
Of course it may be helpful to show NUC lights while sleeping, but it will force stand-on vessels to stand-off, it is a misuse of COLREG signals. The mistake you are making is to assume that you are a part of the vessel, but you are not. You are the skipper, and she (the vessel) is under your command. NUC indicates a siduation where the vessel is not under the command of the skipper, and not a siduation where the skipper is unable to give command.

As the skipper you are the legal entity, separate from your vessel, and responsible for the actions that she takes. It is your job to command her at all times. But NUC signifies a siduation where the skipper cannot account for the actions of his vessel, because she does not answer his command - not because he isn't in the position to give her command in the first place.

I understand your intentions in showing the signal, and it will probably help to avoid collisions. But you are not indicating the status of your vessel, you are indicating the status of her skipper.
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Old 21-08-2011, 11:35   #89
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

A boat sailing with the ability to propel itself and steer does not fit the definition of Not Under Command. It would be an illegal use of NUC lights or day shapes.

NUC does not define the status of the master or person in command, it defines the status of the vessel itself as being unable to maneuver so as to be unable to avoid a collision.

Here it is...

Rule 3
The term "vessel not under command" means a vessel which through some exceptional circumstance is unable to maneuver as required by these Rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel.
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Old 21-08-2011, 13:56   #90
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Re: Red and Green All-Around Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
The point I'm asking about is that if the crew is asleep, then the vessel is unable to maneuver. Whether the sleeping crew is an exceptional circumstance or not doesn't matter from a practical standpoint.
The legalities/responsibilities aside, the idea is to communicate to other vessels what the subject vessel's status is. If the boat is unable to maneuver I would certainly want to know that as I approached it, and I wouldn't much care what the reason was.
So we need lights and shapes that communicate "I arrogantly believe the rules about standing watch don't apply to me so I expect you to avoid me while I have a nap."
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